Long-term Parenting: Destination Ahead


Today’s post is the third in a three part series on long-term parenting. The first post explored the idea of long-term parenting and the second post offered tools for widening your parenting lens. Today’s post offers specific tools to help move your family toward your goals.

Changing our habits can be challenging but here’s a great way to get started. Look at your list of characteristics and life skills that you want your children to have. Select the three values that matter most to your and your family and make those your focus for the year. This is a great activity to do with your partner! Doing this together will get you on the same page as you work toward making positive changes in your family.

What do you want to see more of? When we shift the focus from what we want less of, to what we want more of, the solutions and tools to get there are more apparent. This is particularly true when most of our challenges are normal developmental stages for our children. It's exasperating trying to figure out what will make an annoying behavior go away, but many of us find ourselves filled with ideas for how to do more of something.

In early January, I spent some time thinking about what I want more of in our family. The three characteristics I selected to focus on this year are flexibility, patience, and self-discipline. Just to test out whether it is in fact easier to think of how to add more than how to get rid of something, I decided to try it out. I wrote down three things I would like to see less of, whining, nagging, impatience. Sure I can think of solutions for these, but just thinking about it feels tedious and depressing. When I think about how to increase our flexibility, patience, and self-discipline, I feel full of ideas. I feel hopeful. I feel excited. Which viewpoint is more likely to get my family and myself where we want to be?

The next step is to invite our kids along the journey. You may want to share with your children the areas you hope to grow in as a family this year. What do they think might help the family get there? Are there other goals they want to have on the list? What would support them in their learning along the way?

Creating hope in our children and ourselves is key, and long-term parenting is all about that. When we parent for the long-term, we raise kids who feel capable, confident, and curious, have faith in themselves, and believe they can learn from mistakes. When kids know these things, they treat us with greater respect and kindness (because that’s how we treat them), they don't expect us to be perfect (because we don't expect that of them), and we can stop second guessing ourselves, and find more joy in parenting.